Palm Vaults is the coffee shop of my dreams. The food was so beautifully prepared and presented. With rainbow coffees and an interior that takes you away from a bustling city.
I’ve been following Palm Vaults on Insta for a little while. I was drawn to the hanging plants from the ceiling, the pale pink tones and the decor gives you a feeling of being in LA in the 80’s. I was intrigued by the lattes I saw and the colourful display of cakes and breakfast goodies. When I was planning this trip to London I had to make time to visit. Boy am I glad we went there.
Palm Vaults is mainly a vegetarian cafe, with a lot of the food being vegan and free from options too. Perfect if you’re like me and you have a shit ton of intolerances. It meant I could fully relax and not have to worry about if the food I’m eating might get contaminated or they didn’t hear my order correctly.
Firstly we had to get coffee down ourselves. (It was 10am and the caffeine headaches were already starting). Palm Vaults have a large range of speciality coffees, but with a twist. Not only did they only serve their coffees with a wide range of non-dairy alternatives, they had a whole menu of colourful and tonic lattes. I had to get one, I went for the Red Velvet. This consisted of espresso, fresh beet juice, cacao, agave, vanilla & steamed coconut milk. It was beautifully sweet and well balanced. There’s subtle hints of all the flavours coming through without any being to overbearing. The biggest down fall? The presentation, I was hoping that the latte would have been more rich in colour but looked a little muddy. Coming from a barista background I like to see well texturised milk to create latte art, but we can’t have everything can we?
Next the food. I’m a massive fan of banana bread, especially if it’s vegan. With a couple of topping to choose from the one that made my mouth water was the almond caramel & cacao nibs. I was expecting it to be super sweet and sickly but it was so incredibly more-ish. The sweetness of the almond caramel was balanced out with the bitterness of the cacao nibs.
The decor was one of the main reasons for the visit. They have a variety of hanging plants dangling from the ceiling, the pastel pink tones reflected well with the exposed brick wall and the mirrors really opened up the space. I really loved the interior, the plants could of done with a little more TLC but being a cafe they may not have the time to care for them as much as they should.
Creating your own urban jungle is in and Bristol is just as obsessed with plants as everyone else. We’ve got shops popping up all over the city. I took a trip to London with my plant pal Octavia to see what the big smoke has to offer.
High on my list to visit was Sky Garden and the Barbican Conservatory as well as some of London’s best known plant retailers. We packed a lot into such a short period but we managed to visit everywhere and even stumbled upon Columbia Road Flower Market.
We headed over to Hackney to check out Conservatory Archives. I’ve only been following these guys on Instagram for a short time, but once you look at their feed you’ll understand why we visited. Their picturesque store was heavenly and full to the brim with every plant imaginable. Palms, cacti and climbers were plentiful and the sheer size of some of them was overwhelming.
Saturday evening we booked a table in the bar of the Sky Garden. I was extremely excited to visit this garden in a skyscraper. Arriving at the pod I was stunned by the living wall opposite, plants covering the whole wall of the building. But once inside I was slightly disappointed, don’t get me wrong, the views of London at night was spectacular and it was a lovely evening. The lighting on the plants was not flattering. It was dark, you didn’t really have a full view of the plants. There were some that looked very sun damaged and I’m sad to say that there were bug infestations on some of the plants.
During the evening there was DJ when we arrived, then a live band. We had booked a table at the bar and we had a beautiful view of the Shard as we had our drinks and shared some food. If you’re interested in visiting you’ll have to book your visit in advance as it’s viewed by booking only. You can turn up on the day but you’ll be sure to be waiting (outside) a while before being allowed in.
Sunday was much better and more focused towards visiting retailers. We spent the morning in Hackney, starting at Palm Vaults, a vegetarian cafe with a lot of it’s food being vegan. Once fed and caffeinated we headed over to Botany, a plant and lifestyle brand. We also visited Prick, London’s first specialist cacti shop who have just published their own book and Cuemars, a collaborative store of local designers, plants and lifestyle.
To finish our trip we spent the afternoon at the Barbican Centre. When I was living in London I had visited centre a couple of times to see a couple of exhibitions but never knew about the conservatory. I loved the industrial brickwork against the tropical palms, it was an urban jungle. I took my film camera with me which I’ll soon be getting developed.
I’ll be going into more detail of our time in London in following posts, but I wanted to give you an overview of our time there. To follow more of what we got up to follow us on Instagram.
A few months ago David told me that we were going to Scotland, not only that but going to a cabin right next to some national parks. No one has ever done something so thoughtful for me before. I was beyond surprised and excited for our little scottish adventure. The plan was so travel by train to Glasgow, see David’s family and stay for a couple of nights then drive to Dunoon, stay there for the a few nights, go back to Paisley for a final night before our hell ride back to Bristol.
Now I’ve only ever been to Glasgow but I’ve wanted to visit other parts of Scotland for a while. You hear people talking about how beautiful Scotland is, but it’s not until you’re there you truly understand what they’re talking about.
I was excited by the fact I was going to be surrounded by beautiful scenery, in a cabin, far away from people. And boy, it didn’t disappoint.
Arriving just after the summer holidays the holiday village was deserted, apart from the odd person. It was great. So peaceful and I truly felted relaxed and at peace for the first time in a long time.
Having a small cabin to ourselves was perfect. It was cosy, even for just the two of us. There was barely any WiFi (we tried stealing a neighbour’s, wasn’t very successful) and signal wasn’t the strongest either. Just what we needed.
We’d wake up late, as trying to get out of the warm toasty bed was just too much. But once we braved it and refuelled ourselves with square sausage and coffee we were ready to take on the day.
In the evenings we’d get cosy indoors or the one evening it wasn’t chucking it down, we were able to sit outside with the chiminea lit, roasting some marshmallows.
We rented a small Fiat 500 to get about the place, which was perfect for what we needed.
Benmore Botanic Gardens was a quick drive away, less than 20 minutes. On our first day we visited, we went on an Explorer’s Guided Tour. This was a small golf cart which took you around the whole estate. It was a great way to get familiar with the grounds quickly. Luckily the weather held out for us on this day, I don’t think I would have enjoyed it so much if it was raining.
Our guide took us up to the highest point and the views were outstanding. There was a heavy mist over the hill tops, it didn’t obstruct the view too much, more added to the atmosphere. The grounds were full of Redwoods, all types of ferns and Rhododendrons hybrids. And moss, the ground was covered in moss. I was in heaven, literally. I have never been somewhere that was so picturesque. I almost felt like I was stepping into a fairytale.
Whilst we were on this tour I took my Canon AE-1 Programme with me with a black and white film. I prefer taking landscape/forest photos in black and white sometimes as the colour can be distracting sometimes to the viewer. I also haven’t shot in black and white for a long time, a good few years, and wanted the artistic challenge.
In the grounds there was this beautiful building, a Fernery. What’s that? I didn’t know anything about them either before visiting. It’s pretty much like a conservatory but just with moss and ferns growing inside. It was so beautiful, I would love to have an equivalent someday.
The next day we went back so I could spend some time in the Fernery. I really wanted to focus a lot of my attention on this. I wanted to be able to take my time photographing the building and the ferns inside. I have a slight obsession with ferns, (I’m slowly filling my flat with them). I’m very visually attracted to them and have an interested in knowing more about this varietal of plant. I’ll be writing a more detail post on the Fernery as I found it so fascinating. This time I wanted to use a colour film to document this space, as I knew it was going to be a lot darker and wanted to capture the contrast between the dark lighting and the patterns of the leaves.
That day was a lot wetter when we visited the Fernery. I mean a lot wetter. Again it was a lazy morning, hoping that the rain would pass. Unfortunately it didn’t, and it really poured it down. This didn’t phase me, I was in my element. Surrounded by nature, being creative, I was loving every moment. David was not so impressed. By the time we got back to the caravan we were soaked through. I was amazed at how drenched we were without really feeling it.
The rest of the time spent in Scotland was relaxing and enjoyable. We popped into Glasgow for brunch which meant we got to get a taste food by Wilson Street Pantry. I saw these guys on my Instagram feed and I’ve been wanting to see what they’re about for a while. It was very enjoyable and the coffee was supplied locally and executed by the barista beautifully. If you’re ever in Glasgow it’s somewhere I’d recommend. I’m still trying to learn the coffee scene in Glasgow, I want to visit more coffee shops but we went back to a espresso bar I enjoy going to every time I’ve been to Glasgow, Laboratorio Espresso. Since the first time visiting, they have a larger range of filters on which I love. Most coffee shop offer a ‘guest’ or just a filter coffee. I find it rare that places offer a range of filters, this being because espresso is more adaptable to people’s requirement. But I love filter, filter for days, black, no sugar. When I order it, I want it to be good, and I love it when there’s an option. They also serve each coffee with a small biscotti and also in (very) hipster science equipment (coffee is a lot more scientific than you realise), is just little additions I appreciate.
I would totally recommend to anyone who was visiting Scotland to go to Dunoon, even if this was something that wasn’t really for them. As I think just viewing something that is so large and impressive, it makes you wonder. It really makes you realise how much the human race takes this world for granted.
As well as taking my Canon with me, there was a project that I’ve been wanting to do for years. A few Christmas’ ago, my eldest brother gave me This Is Not A Book. A book that you have to keep on you at all times (for a week) and work through the tasks it gives you. I’ve been waiting for the right moment to do this. And what better time to do it than in a forest?! Sadly I didn’t get as much as I would have liked to get done but it was still an enjoyable project to work on. I’m slowly uploading video and photos of my documentation of the project to my personal Instagram (@robiclm). And I’ll be scanning the book before burning it, alongside a university project I’ll be burning. Why? Closure.
We worked on this project mainly through our time in Dunoon but not so much when we were in Paisley, as it just wasn’t so viable. This leaving a lot of the book a little more uncompleted as I would have liked. But it’s done, kinda, I still need to scan it all and burn it. But that’s for another day.
Upon returning to Bristol, after the hellish train ride home, I repeat never get the train to AND from Glasgow. (I don’t even want to get into it.) I went to get my films developed a few days later. There’s such an exciting feeling of waiting for you films to process that brings me back to feeling like a child. The possibility of not knowing how your photos have turned out gives you this anxious and extremely exciting feeling.
I hope to create a website for my photography. These will be personal collections and of destinations I’ve visited. Every photo will be available to buy as a print and I hope to be able to publish a small limited photography book of my visit to Benmore.
As well as my photography project, I’m trialling some other work. I have this artistic vision for what the big final project to be working towards. To help me with my ‘research’ I picked a rock from the gardens, (shhh, don’t tell anyone.) that had moss covering it and see how I can maintain this. I’ve tried a few methods already and hoping the one that I have settled on will work out as I planned. It’s all careful monitoring daily to track any change.
This is an ongoing project. And this is my first experiment. I don’t want to reveal too much about it at this point in time as I’d like a firmer idea if my concept is even doable. However, I hope that the photography website is something I can build in the next couple of months before publishing a book. Or vice versa, who knows?! I get impulsive and when I run with an idea, who knows what will happen.
All photographs are by Robi Moore, some are a work in progress for an ongoing project.